Friday, September 2, 2011

Come (please do not) fly with us


PIA once dominated the skies all over the world with its befitting motto “Great people to fly with.” Everywhere people instantly recognized its smartly dressed air hostesses in green and white outfits and big smiles.  Its aircraft landed on foreign lands with precise accuracy and were known for their punctuality and on-time departures and arrivals.

But that was many decades ago when PIA was managed by professionals like the two air marshals Asghar Khan and Noor Khan. In 50s and 60s, PIA was the best state run institution and service provider. In those days politics and politicians have not recognised the “potential” of the airlines. And when they learnt it, the demise of PIA started.

Today, PIA is no more even the least favourite around the world. Except for those who are forced to travel by it due to budgetary constraints or state restrictions, there is hardly anyone who opts to travel by PIA despite tall claims by the management.

The political influence has ushered in countless political workers into the organization, who are not only a drag on the meagre resources of the airlines, but also do not add productively as these workers are untrained and misfit for the job. And that is the core reason that over the past few years, we have witnessed a sharp decline in the performance of the airlines. Travelling in the elite business class sometime back, I found the seat functions jammed and inoperative, besides the cabin being dirty. The airhostess and later the purser had no answer to the non-functioning of the seat facilities.

But that is a small example. Recently, there have been a number of incidents of emergency landings by its aircraft. The flight coming from Jeddah had an emergency landing, while a flight to Jeddah had to land with three engines. And just today, A Turbat bound ATR aircraft had to land with one engine as the other had stopped during the flight. It has been only a miracle that there were no disasters – but the poor maintenance by the ill-trained ground staff did not leave any stone unturned to make it so happen.

Every year, the Umrah and Haj operations are marred with unprecedented delays in picking up the pilgrims on their way back and the poor stranded people had to wait for days before arrangements are made to pick them up. 

The replaced present motto "Come fly with us" looks ridiculous as no one would want to fly with PIA with its present state of affairs and operability - rather it looks as if they are saying "Please do not fly with us.". It seems that the airlines has reached its capacity of crises management and has finally on the way of crumbling down like the once mighty Roman Empire – unless some miracle happens and the political patronage is replaced by the order of the Supreme Court and only the competent and trained professionals are allowed to run the airlines.

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